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Open mike 16/01/2010

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 16th, 2010 - 32 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:


Topics of interest, announcements, general discussion. The usual rules apply (see the link to Policy in the banner).

Step right up to the mike…

32 comments on “Open mike 16/01/2010”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    Here is a persuasive reason why governments of whatever persuasion should STFO of meddling in the free market.


    Note this particular quote that is indicative of the amazing financial “genius” of politicians:

    “For those who don’t recall, Gordon Brown was the British government bureaucrat that sold half the UK’s gold for under $300 in 1999 and the early 2000s. Gold has since quadrupled from the price where he sold it, so the UK didn’t get that profit. The U.S. dollars that Brown bought from the gold sale then subsequently lost at least 30% of their value. This is the type of market ‘genius’ that government brings to the table. Would you like to let a government bureaucrat make investing decisions for your 401K?”

    • quenchino 1.1

      Yeah and all those ‘genius’ free market types never find themselves on the downside of any deal either.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      No, that’s just another indication that you will believe whatever tripe someone says that agrees with your ideology.

    • scarfie 1.3

      Here is a persuasive reason why governments of whatever persuasion should STFO of meddling in the free market.

      Apart from bailing said free markets out to the tune of a couple of trillion dollars you mean? That still OK with you? Sheeesh.

      • Bill 1.3.1

        US$10.8 Trillion according to IMF figures obtained by the BBC.

        US$3.6 Trillion by the US which puts Obama’s tough talking on US$117 Billion into perspective.

      • Quoth the Raven 1.3.2

        We don’t have free markets and the ‘free markets’ weren’t bailed out, institutions (ones which probably wouldn’t exist on the free market) were bailed out. It goes without saying that they shouldn’t have been bailed out and that the credit crisis wouldn’t have happened without central bank driven credit booms. It’s the way of state-corporate capitalism that the state must interfere again and again to make up for the failure of it’s other interferences. In fact Keynesians like Paul Krugman were demanding the creation of a housing bubble in the US.

  2. Jenny 2

    The following links say it all.

    NZ ‘Generous’ for Haiti


    Kiwi specialists ready to go Haiti


    Haiti now the focus of the entire world says Gordon Brown.


    Our government has donated $1 million and said ‘there’s nothing we can do’.

    Helping Haiti

    • gitmo 2.1

      But only one of those is a blog article which is actively trying to disparage the govt ….. what do you expect ?

  3. Ministry of Justice 3

    A question for the lefties here…

    What, if anything, is wrong with communism?

    • Bill 3.1

      Okay. I’ll bite.

      Democratic Centralism is something that is wrong with communism as it came to be expressed in the USSR and Eastern Europe.

      The preservation of market relations was another major flaw of Soviet style communism (the disparate power present in the command economy encourages centralisation of power in the political sphere).

      The preservation of the vertical division of labour was another major flaw of Soviet style communism.

      I could go on, but the point would be that all of these flaws are surmountable when we realise that the means will determine the ends.

      So, no centralisation of power in our organisations of today will lead to diffused power in our institutions of tomorrow. Investing in a central figure of authority ( that can be a personality or a book of ‘correct analysis and thought’ among other things) in our organisations today will lead to dictatorial institutions tomorrow.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Online Voting: A basic Howto

    Electoral Role.
    We already have one of these so no major changes there. What we’d be looking at is having it online so that people could check their details and change them if necessary. This would most likely require better security for identification on initial set up than it has at present to prevent/reduce fraud. I’d envision something closer to what banks do when setting up bank accounts – two forms of ID and proof of address.

    All Votes To Be Recorded.
    This really is no different than now except it would be recorded electronically. This is so people can log in and check their votes the purpose of which is so that, within a reasonable time limit, they can request that it be changed.

    Now, I’m sure people are going to go on about anonymous voting here but that’s because people either don’t know or don’t remember why voting became anonymous. It’s because public voting (ie going down to the pub and raising your hand) lends itself to intimidation. It has nothing to do with the vote being recorded against your name.

    The time limit to change your recorded vote is there for two basic reasons: A mistake was made during voting or the vote was recorded incorrectly. It also assists in preventing fraud in the vote count. Changing the recorded vote would be done through a formal written request and would be done in front of a JP or other official. The time limit is no different than now with the poll day and then time for special votes to be counted resulting in a final count.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    quenchio “Yeah and all those ‘genius’ free market types never find themselves on the downside of any deal either.”

    Of course they do. However, at least they stuff up with money that is invested freely. Not confiscated from unwitting taxpayers as it is by the governments who squander money they haven’t earned by pissing it away as Gordon Brown did. Think about it. Half of the UK’s gold sold for quarter the current price, and sold in US dollars that have depreciated 30%!! Imagine how much better off the UK would be now if they had simply held onto the gold.

    Anyway, the main point of the article I pointed to is that when governments try to intervene by regulating prices in order to please the populace, they simply end up creating shortages (or huge surplusses) that eventually drive prices up much higher (or lower) than if the market had just been left to sort it out.

    If you consider the boom-bust cycles, it is due to government interference in the market. Consider the sub-prime crash for example. The reason it was called sub-prime is that the government encouraged people who couldn’t really afford it to by houses when the Fed was holding the interest rates at a very low level. When the Fed put interest rates back up again those same people could not afford to keep up the repayments, hence where we are today.

    If the free market is left to itself, there will still be ups and downs. But there would not be the huge bubbles and subsequent pops that we have become familiar that cause huge amounts of damage in the process.

    Look at what the US is doing. They are trying to solve a bubble problem by creating another huge bubble. And so it goes on.

    • Matt 5.1

      You are forgetting that that money was invested in infrastructure (eg. educati0n, health, transport etc) which has created wealth and wellbeing in the meantime, so its value can’t be based on your calculation of what the US dollars it sold for would be worth now, but what the value of that money invested at the time and since has been – I think any decent economist would be able to work out that the social and economic capital gained from that investment would be worth significanty more to the UK than it would be now if it was sitting in gold bullion in the Bank of England vaults. As anyone knows gold is valuable only when investments don’t provide any return, and since governments are expected to deliver public goods rather than cash returns on a speculative investment (what will gold be worth next year, or the year after?) it was probably the right thing to do. And, ask anyone who needed healh care weather they would swap the service they had for gold bullion worth 80ish% more than it was back then I can guess at there response. You can have all the gold that you want, but its not worth anything until you exchange it for something. Government’s have to provide for their populations, not make investments that appreciate in value.

      captcha ‘money’ heh heh

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      If you consider the boom-bust cycles, it is due to government interference in the market.

      Nope. Boom/Bust cycles are a natural result of the market being under supplied, which pushes pushes prices/profits up, which leads to more investment in to supply that demand, which leads to over supply when the market becomes saturated, which leads to falling prices, loss instead of profit and declining investment.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    I agree with you to a point there Matt,

    However, I am really talking more generally about the unforseen effects of government intervention in the free market.

    For example, can anyone think of consequences to Venezuela intervening to drive down their currency and then outlawing store owners from putting up their prices? Crazy I know. But governments do this sort of thing quite frequently in a more civilized manner but with the same outcomes.


  7. tsmithfield 7

    Good point Mach1.

    So far as Venezuela is concerned, some of you might argue that the prohibition on raising prices only applies to goods in stock prior to the devaluation. So therefore, companies are profiteering unfairly by putting their prices up. However, that argument would be incorrect.

    Here is why.

    Imagine you are a store owner having imported goods in stock that you make 30% profit on when you sell it. So, something you sell for $100 has cost you $70. However, stock that has been sold needs to be replaced. Due to the government halving the value of their currency what previously cost you $70 now costs you $140. So, in order to be able to afford to replace your stock you have to put your prices up.

    In the case of Venezuela, the government may well be able to prevent stores from putting up their prices. But I doubt they will be able to force them to buy more stock. Therefore, there will be major shortages.

    An example of government interference at its bluntest and most stupid level.

  8. Bill 8

    “Due to the government halving the value of their currency what previously cost you $70 now costs you $140.”

    No it doesn’t. It still costs $70. If any domestic supplier attempted to charge you $140, they would be falling foul of the law and liable to whatever punishment.

  9. Quoth the Raven 9

    Interesting news about coffee production in Venzuela. Venezuela’s ‘dying art’ of coffee production.

    Venezuela was once one of the world’s largest coffee exporters, but now it is being forced to import the drink.

    The socialist government blames price speculation and hoarding.

    The growers claim that government price controls mean it is no longer economically viable to grow coffee.

    • Bill 9.1

      That prop’s about as subtle as a slap across the coupon with a wet fish.

      Let me see if I can pinpoint the unspoken nub of the matter.

      There used to be a lot of privately owned coffee plantations and processing facilities maximising their profits on an export crop at the expense of growing food crops for the local populace.

      Their gravy train is grinding to a halt in the face of new agricultural policies that aim to increase local food production for domestic consumption as opposed to private profits being made from exporting food.

      In retaliation they ( and a lot of their private enterprise and corporate buddies) fuck up the supply of materials in the production chain which then puts the enterprise at risk of being ex appropriated and control handed over to the workers who continue to be intimidated by the still considerable presence of a fading centre of power.

      Meanwhile, in the battle for hearts and minds, the domestic corporates are joined by their ideological brethren abroad who help spread the word that the good guys are Venezuela’s ‘white mofo’s’ who are fighting a valiant rearguard action against the pesky locals and their preferred government.

      • Quoth the Raven 9.1.1

        There used to be a lot of privately owned coffee plantations and processing facilities maximising their profits on an export crop at the expense of growing food crops for the local populace.

        No, Bill. First of all coffee is identified by the Venezuelan government as an essential food item. This is not about the government wanting them to produce other crops they want them to produce coffee. The government introduced a price control and now it is not economical for most of the farmers to grow coffee.

        Their gravy train is grinding to a halt in the face of new agricultural policies that aim to increase local food production for domestic consumption as opposed to private profits being made from exporting food.

        No. Now they have to import coffee where before they were exporters. So the production of coffee now doesn’t actually meet local demand.

        You like to see the worst in people don’t you Bill. What I see is a government with good intentions, but policies that don’t make economic sense and people who aren’t ‘white mofos’ conspiring against Venzuela’s social revolution, but just farmers nor do I think the BBC, a state-owned enterprise, is their ideological brethren it’s just reporting the news.

        • Daveosaurus

          “coffee is identified by the Venezuelan government as an essential food item.”

          Can’t argue with that.

        • Bill

          “You like to see the worst in people don’t you Bill?”


          “What I see is a government with good intentions, but policies that don’t make economic sense and people who aren’t ‘white mofos’ conspiring against Venzuela’s social revolution, but just farmers…”

          The people in the piece you linked to were most definately not ‘just farmers’. They were major land owners and as such tend to be opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution

          “… nor do I think the BBC, a state-owned enterprise, is their ideological brethren it’s just reporting the news.”

          The BBC does not simply report the news. That is the biggest piece of naive tosh I’ve read in a wee while. The BBC, along with the rest of the liberal media, is anti the Bolivarian Revolution and the government of Venezuela.

          In relation to the rest of your comment http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/5062 offers an interesting perspective positing as it does friction between unions and workers on the one hand and the state bureaucracy on the other.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    Bill “No it doesn’t. It still costs $70. If any domestic supplier attempted to charge you $140, they would be falling foul of the law and liable to whatever punishment.”

    I said imported goods, Bill. So far as I know, the laws of Venezuela don’t extend to the countries goods are imported from. There could be an argument that local industries will eventually replace some of the imported goods with local manufacture. However, there is a considerable time lag for this. So there will be shortages in the short to medium term.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    Quoth the Raven “The growers claim that government price controls mean it is no longer economically viable to grow coffee.”

    I guess one of the positives with this move is that the coffee farmers will suddenly become a helluva lot more competitive on the world market. However, their real-wealth purchasing power won’t have changed much, especially if they have to pay twice as much for imported equipment such as tractors and the like.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    Bill “Sorry. Missed the imported caveat.

    Don’t know how that’s being dealt with.”

    Also likely to affect a lot of locally manufactured goods. Factories making stuff in Venezuela won’t be able to sell existing stock at a sufficient price to replace any raw materials that will suddenly be double their pre-devaluation price. Therefore, a lot of factories will probably have to close, and a lot of workers will probably lose their jobs.

    It looks like the Government is attempting to deflate their way out of sovereign debt. By deflating their currency as they have done, their international debt will suddenly be halved if their creditors haven’t been smart enough to specify finance in US dollars or the like. A great trick for reducing your current debt. Not such a good idea if you are hoping that lenders will be generous to you in the future.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    It gets worse.

    The price controls only apply to existing stock. So replacement stock will be double the price.

    However, as mentioned above, there will be a lot more unemployment due to this move. Therefore, companies will be trying to sell goods at twice the price to a much smaller market due to much higher unemployment. Thus more companies will have to close creating more unemployment. A downward spiral. I think they are stuffed.

    • Bill 13.1

      “Now, the government will exchange dollars at different rates depending on the product that is to be imported. For essential products such as foods, health care supplies, and machinery needed to boost national production, the rate will be 2.6 bolivars to the dollar. For non-essential productst such as automobiles, telecommunications, chemicals, appliances, textiles, services, tobacco and alcohol, electronics, international travel, and remittances, the rate will be 4.3 bolivars to the dollar.”


  14. burt 14

    Top 10 bicycle-friendly cities

    This is something we in NZ should aspire to. I’ve been commuting on my bike for about 4 years now and I’m not at all surprised NZ is not on that top ten list.

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